It’s Groundhog’s Day and I am reminded of the movie by the same name. You know, the one with Bill Murray where he repeats the same day over and over again. Ever feel like that? Like you are continually doing the same tasks over and over again and wasting lots of time as you are doing that. Well, take a lesson from Bill and learn from your mistakes. Bill began to improve and change his outcome of each day. And you can improve your days by putting systems in place. Remember yesterday when we identified what was causing you stress and frustrating you in your business. Let’s take those and create some systems.
Start by Writing It Down
The first step in systematizing a process is to write it down. What exactly is the process you go through to handle a possible sales lead? What paperwork do you need to begin working with a new client? If you are struggling to get all the steps down, try the “backwards” approach. Start with the end result and then determine what you did right before that, and so on, for each step.
Another valuable exercise is to document everything you do in your business. Do this for each person who works in your company. This may highlight different opportunities to build systems that can be leveraged throughout your organization. This will become even more important as you grow.
Often, the documentation you create in this process is all the system you require. The next time the task comes up, you can pull out the file and save the relearning. It also becomes the core of the training manual for new employees, which is often one of the most valuable systems you can build.
Is the system worth it?
There are some guidelines to help you determine whether something is worth creating a system. There are 3 things to consider when deciding whether to create a system:
- How hard is it to automate? Creating paper checklists is easy; programming Outlook to sync your phone contacts and automatically generate follow up emails isn’t so easy. However, don’t give up if the software approach is too expensive or complicated. Productivity guru David Allen sells several slick software products, but his core recommendation for organizing tasks is to create a set of clearly labeled file folders. Again, a well-documented, step-by-step manual is the core of many highly successful systems.
- How painful is the task? And how painful is failing to execute it well? High-value tasks, such as annual conferences and the like, are good candidates for setting up systems in order to reduce risks and the associated stress.
- Can you outsource the tasks? In some cases, the best system is to hand the documentation for the process to an assistant to carry-out the tasks. In particular, those stress-inducing tasks can be partially off-loaded. But you will need to do the work up front of carefully recording the steps involved, and how to achieve and measure the necessary outcomes.
Keep reviewing and refining
As you go through this analysis, don’t be afraid to start with the question: Why do we do this process in the first place? For every process you find that could be automated with a new system, you may find another that can be eliminated altogether. Systematically reviewing your business this way may be the most valuable system of all.
So I invite you to learn from your activities and put your systems in place so you can be more productive AND take more time off. Please share where you are going to start!